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Scat Pack in legal limbo?

by Bill Cawthon on

ScatPack-vs-Scat-Web

In the Friday edition of Automotive News, Larry Vellequette reports that Chrysler Group is being sued over the use of the “Scat Pack” name.

It’s the latest chapter in a long-running dispute between the automaker and Scat Enterprises of Redondo Beach, California, an aftermarket parts maker initially formed in 1964.

The lawsuit – Scat Enterprises, Inc. v. Chrysler Group LLC – was filed Wednesday in U.S. District Court for the Central District of California. In the action, Scat alleges that Chrysler infringed on its trademarked name in 2013, when Dodge used the Scat Pack name at the SEMA show for optional packages for the Dodge Challenger.

The suit seeks monetary damages as well as an order requiring Chrysler to deliver all marketing materials, badging and associated items to Scat Enterprises for destruction.

Scat Enterprises says attempts to reach a mutually agreeable solution have been unsuccessful.

Dodge first used the Scat Pack name in 1968 and stopped using it 1971, allegedly after receiving a cease-and-desist letter from Scat Enterprises.

According to U.S. Patent & Trademark Office (USPTO) records, the Scat name was registered to Scat Enterprises on June 21, 2011.

Chrysler Group didn’t file for registration of “Scat Pack” until August 27, 2013.

Chrysler’s application was initially refused based on the examining attorney’s decision that the Scat Pack trademark might create consumer confusion with the already-registered Scat trademark. In an 11-page letter dated April 10, 2014, Kristen Spano, Chrysler’s trademark attorney, appealed the initial refusal, citing various decisions and precedents to counter the USPTO’s argument that consumers are likely to be confused when confronted with Challenger Scat Pack and a Scat Enterprises crankshaft.

Unfortunately, the confusion emphasized by USPTO attorney Paul Moreno was not only potential confusion on the part of the average consumer as to the products themselves, but the greater likelihood that consumers might be confused by the origins of the products. In other words, components made and sold by Scat Enterprises might be perceived as coming from Chrysler. It was this that led to the May 6, 2014, final refusal to allow the registration process to advance.

This is also the cause cited by Scat Enterprises in its lawsuit.

“Defendant’s resumed prominent use of Scat and Scat Pack will likely cause members of the trade, customers and others to mistakenly believe that defendants owns [those] marks and that plaintiff is infringing upon defendant’s rights,” Scat said.

Chrysler vowed to defend its use of the “Scat Pack” name. In a written statement quoted in the Automotive News article, Chrysler said: “Dodge made Scat Pack what it is today. In 1968, Chrysler re-envisioned its Dodge Charger R/T, Coronet R/T, and Dart GTS vehicles by offering high-performance, redesigned versions under the Scat Pack moniker. Marketplace interest was immediate and enthusiastic, making the Dodge Scat Pack hugely successful from 1968 to 1971. The brand has remained legendary in the enthusiast community since then and consumers still associate Scat Pack with Chrysler’s vehicles, and no other business or products. Scat Enterprises, an aftermarket supplier of crankshafts, connecting rods, and rotating assemblies marketing under the term “Scat”, has never used the term “Scat Pack”. Scat Enterprises’ lawsuit against Chrysler over Chrysler’s 2014-15 Scat Pack vehicles is a meritless and opportunistic attempt to hold Chrysler hostage just days before the upcoming SEMA show. Chrysler will vigorously defend itself against this attack and look to enforce its own rights in this moniker.”

Note: Fiat Chrysler Automobiles still has until November 6 to respond to the USPTO with revised arguments or to file an appeal with the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board.

Additional information was obtained from the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California, the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office and Law360.

Bill Cawthon grew up in the auto industry in the 1950s. His Dad worked for Chrysler and Bill spent a number of Saturdays down on the plant floor at Dodge Main in Hamtramck. Bill is also the U.S. market correspondent for just-auto.com, a British auto industry publication, and a member of the Texas Auto Writers Association, which has named the Jeep Grand Cherokee the “SUV of Texas” several times and named the Ram 1500 as the “Truck of Texas” two years running.

Bill has owned five Plymouths (including the only 1962 “Texan”), one Dodge and one Chrysler and is still trying to figure out how to justify a Wrangler. He also has owned at least one of every 1:87 scale model of a Chrysler product. You can reach him directly at (206) 888-7324 or by using the form.


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